We all like to look and feel at our best at all times. Often, our best efforts of keeping healthy fall by the wayside and we feel groggy, tired, and uninspired.
This is something everyone wants to avoid, even if they can’t manage it at all times!
So, many of us turn to supplements to help keep our vitamins, minerals, and other essentials up above par, in an effort to improve how we feel. One of the most commonly taken supplements is omega-3 fatty acids. Ever wondered what they were for? Well, in this article you will find everything you need to know about omega-3s and what the health benefits are of making sure you’re consuming enough.
What are Omegas?
OK, let’s get technical for a second. Omegas, of which there are 3 most common types, Omega-3, 6, and 9, are all polyunsaturated fats. That is fats that have a double bond (unsaturated), of which there are many (poly). This means there are multiple bonds, of which at least one is double. The number, 3, 6, or 9, refers to the position in the structure where the double bond is found.
That’s the technical part out of the way, but what does it all mean? Well, these fats are important dietary essentials but our bodies can not make them themselves, meaning we must consume them. This is why you will often hear them referred to as “essential” fats.
Where Does Omega-3 Come From?
The issue most people have is that they over-consume Omega-6 and 9 fatty acids, but do not get enough of the omega-3s. These 3s are necessary for various health benefits and bodily functions, which will be discussed shortly. So, as part of a healthy diet, everyone needs a bit of extra omega-3.
If you want to add more omega-3 to your diet you have a few options. Firstly, you could try eating more fish. The American Heart Association recommends two portions of oily fish a week to help boost omega-3. But, not everyone likes fish, right? Vegetarians could reach for flaxseed or chia seeds instead. However, for ease and measured use, most people opt for supplements.
Without a doubt one of the most popular supplements on the market, omega-3 supplements are sold in their millions each year. If you click here you can see a wide variety of the various supplements available in this area. There are certainly plenty to choose from! Traditionally, cod liver oil was used as a supplement in places where fish could not be eaten regularly. That stuck for a long time but now, vegan or fish-free supplements are available. Things like sustainably-grown algae contain as much omega-3 as cod liver oil. After all, fish eat algae, so it makes perfect sense!
All this talk about omega-3 must have you wondering why it’s so beneficial (Healthline Link). Let’s take a look at some of the recognized health benefits of taking omega-3 supplements.
- Improved Heart Health
One of the most widely researched and known benefits of omega-3 is a reduced risk of heart disease or heart failure. Omega-3 helps reduce the risk of blood clots as well as helps fight the buildup of plaque in your arteries. It also boosts good HDL cholesterol and can help reduce your triglycerides. All of these together massively reduce the risk of heart attacks or other heart conditions.
- Improved Eye Health
Believe it or not, omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to improved eye health. This is because one of the types of omega-3, DHA, is one of the major compounds in the structure of the retina. Getting enough of it can help reduce problems in the eyes, including reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
- Reduced Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are the leading mental health conditions in the world, affecting millions every day. However, increased intake of omega-3s has shown that symptoms can be reduced. EPA, another omega-3 compound, has been shown to be as effective as a prescribed pharmaceutical antidepressant in one study, making it definitely worth a try for anyone with symptoms of anxiety or depression.
- Promote Brain Health
Omegas are also crucial compounds in the building and development of brain cells, especially in the young. Even when pregnant, omega supplementation has been shown to help the development of the foetal brain. Getting enough omega-3 in pregnancy and infancy has shown to increase cognitive function, social skills, and reduce the risk of ADHD developing.
- Fighting Inflammation
Inflammation is an important defence mechanism against injuries in our bodies. However, some people suffer from long-term or chronic inflammation, which can lead to heart disease, cancer, and other severe illnesses. Increased intake of omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, meaning it can reduce the risk of these awful, sometimes terminal illnesses from developing.
- Improved Joint and Bone Health
As we all age, many people develop joint and bone issues such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Studies have shown that omega-3s can improve your bone strength and even treat arthritis, making it an essential supplement for anyone with joint or bone pain.
Focus on Health
All of these benefits are amazing, which is why so many people take and recommend omega-3 as part of your diet or in the form of supplements. However, it is important to note that taking supplements does not replace the other aspects of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eating processed, junk food can negate many of the positives omega-3s can bring, while smoking or living a sedentary lifestyle also increase risk factors for almost every condition discussed above. So, whether you do take omega-3s to help with various conditions or not, it’s important to also focus on the bigger picture. Eat a healthy, varied diet and get your exercise in. Combine this with supplements and you’ll feel better than ever.
The benefits of omega-3 supplements are huge, then, as long as they are used in conjunction with a relatively healthy lifestyle. Nobody is perfect, of course! But, omegas can definitely help you feel better in various ways, while possibly protecting you from various diseases.